U.S. heat wave begins with utility worker ‘army’ on, outdoor races off
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Visitors from Chile, Emilia Aguirre, 14, Beatriz Catalan, 14, and Magdalena Chahuan, 15, walk during a hot day in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. July 18, 2019. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A third of the U.S. population was under excessive heat warnings on Friday through the weekend as a massive heat wave broiled the eastern and central United States with temperatures expected to reach 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius).
The dangers posed by extreme heat and humidity prompted officials to scrap outdoor competitions, including Saturday’s horse races at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York and Sunday’s New York City Triathlon.
Con Edison put 4,000 of its 14,000 utility workers on extra shifts in the wake of last week’s power outage that crippled New York City, blamed on a faulty piece of equipment.
“We have 4,000 employees laser-focused on the heat wave this coming weekend, focused on any kind of restorations,” ConEd spokesman Alfonso Quiroz said. He noted “our army of workers” would be on the clock until the heat wave was expected to lift on Monday.
Sprawling heat from Kansas to the East Coast and South Carolina north to Maine was expected to begin a slow boil on Friday and intensify on Saturday and Sunday, said meteorologist David Roth of the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center.
“There are 124 million people under a heat advisory or excessive heat warning – that’s a third of the population,” Roth said.
Moisture intensifies the effect of high temperatures and Friday temperatures were predicted to reach 100 degrees F (37 C) in Washington, 97 degrees F (36 C) in Philadelphia and 91 degrees F (33 C) in New York will feel more like 110 degrees F (43 C), Roth said.
To keep cool during past heat waves, suburban children typically run under lawn sprinklers and city kids frolic in the spray of fire hydrants but the New York City Fire Department warned special spray caps that firehouses hand out should be used to avoid creating a hazard.
“If you open a fire hydrant without these caps, you endanger your neighbors because the water pressure drops and our firefighters are not able to fight fires,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said on social media.
Additional reporting by Henry Nichols in New York; Editing by Bill Trott